Exceptional dancers and political royalty came together last night to celebrate the kick-off the 20-city tour of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre, one of the most prominent modern dance companies in the world. Vice President Joe Biden and his wife, Dr. Jill Biden, hosted a reception in honor of the dance troupe, which begins its tour tonight at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C.
The reception also celebrates the 20th anniversary of the company’s artistic director, Judith Jamison, who attended last night’s reception and spoke highly of both the company and the hosting couple. She thanked the vice president and Dr. Biden for their services to the country and commemorated the spirit of Alvin Ailey and his mission to bring dance to people from all walks of life.
“The Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater will bring what America is,” she said. “Something strong, something powerful, something full of love and energy and ever-spiraling upward.”
Dr. Biden spoke of her visit to the Alvin Ailey dance company in New York last summer: “I said, ‘When you come to Washington, you must come to our home. So thank you for fulfilling my dream but coming here tonight and being with us.” Vice President Biden also got up to the podium to speak, admitting that while he wasn’t always a fan of ballet, an athletic Mikhail Baryshnikov performance that he saw with Dr. Biden years before converted him into an admirer of the art.
The vice president went on to thank the dance company for bringing so much joy to his family and to people all over the world, adding that since 1958, the company has performed in 48 states and 71 countries for 23 million people. “ You are more than a dance troupe,” he said. “You’re a cultural institution, a source of joy the world over and, honestly, one of our greatest national exports.”
– Ariana Gordon